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Fire Your Inner Brat!

Who runs your business -- you or your inner brat? Everyone has an inner brat. It's the part of us that's still a 2-year-old. It gets furious at the slightest inconvenience. It feels entitled to get what it wants when it wants, and it whines and complains when things don't go its way.

Chances are this describes at least one of your clients or employees. It's always easier to spot someone else's inner brat than your own. But take a moment now to reflect on yourself and answer the following questions:

* Do you frequently complain that something isn't fair?

* Do you get angry at least once a day?

* Do you hate at least one client or employee?

* Are you convinced that the government, the economy or the competition is responsible for the lack of growth in your business?

* Have you made bad decisions because you were upset?

* Are you a spreader of gossip?

* Do you frequently forget to follow through on things or return phone calls?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your inner brat is your close business partner, like it or not. Your inner brat not only makes you miserable, it can also undermine the success of your business.

Research has shown that while some jobs are more stressful than others, your level of satisfaction and success have more to do with your attitude than with the work itself.

For example, consider two business owners, Arthur and Betsy. They both recently left their employers and are each struggling to build their own consulting businesses. Arthur complains, "I made 20 phone calls last week, and still haven't landed an appointment to talk to anyone about how I can serve their needs. Going to work every day is like banging my head against the wall. The economy sucks. Nobody's buying."

On the other hand, Betsy, who is in a similar position with her business looks at it this way: OK, I made 20 phone calls last week, which was my goal. That's the good news. Unfortunately it hasn't materialized into any solid business yet, but Don in the purchasing department at Widgets, Inc. invited me to call him back in a month. That gives me a few weeks to do my homework on Widgets and make a more convincing presentation.


You can see from this example that how much you enjoy your work is a function of how you view things. It makes no difference whether you work inside or outside, at a desk or behind a counter; or whether you wear jeans or suits. If you focus on the negative you will never enjoy your business, no matter how much money you make.

Arthur in the above example has a strong inner brat. He complains and finds fault. He perceives himself as a victim. Not only will his inner brat make him irritable and gloomy; it will adversely affect his interpersonal style, making it even more difficult to negotiate contracts. This in turn will make him feel even more like a failure.

Betsy is more positive about her business, but at the same time she is also realistic. She's aware of the difficulty in getting contracts, but instead of dwelling on what's wrong with the economy or anything else, she looks for opportunities to improve her skills. This keeps her focused on solutions and helps her project a positive manner with potential clients.

No one is cheerful one hundred percent of the time. But people who don't let their inner brats whine and complain suffer less stress, have fewer physical ailments and are more optimistic about the future.

There are many things you cannot control in business. For example, you have no control over interest rates or your clients' personalities. If clients or potential clients are argumentative or resistant, maybe they have a problem with their inner brats. But you don't have to let their inner brats push your buttons and unleash your own inner brat.

Some aspects of running your business may be unpredictable or unpleasant. But even then, you can view them in a different way.

* Think of difficulties as a challenge rather than as a threat. Maybe you need to adopt the old sports aphorism as your personal motto: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

* Take advantage of slow times to write thank-you notes to potential prospects with whom you've communicated on the phone or in email.

* When things are hectic or overwhelming, look for opportunities to praise employees for pulling together as a team.

* When you have to work with difficult people pretend you're watching a movie of them, and you're the director trying to decide what to do next. This will help you stay emotionally detached from their quirks, and you'll be calmer and in control.

* Be aware of your inner brat's whining and complaining, which can undermine your success. Fire your inner brat. It has no place in your business!!

Copyright Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. 2005. All rights reserved

Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" (Wildcat Canyon Press, 2004) She is also a life coach.

Visit for more information, and subscribe to her free, monthly Inner Brat Newsletter.

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